How to transfer contacts from Verizon's Backup Assistant


In some parts of the country, Verizon has removed transfer computers from their stores.  I’m sure this is an attempt at saving costs as well as reducing the amount of time customers wait in their stores.  Cellebrite has long been the choice of transfer device for Verizon, and they aren’t cheap!  Additionally, I’ve have my local Verizon employee friends tell me they’ve seen people wait an hour to transfer contacts, only to get miffed when you tell them they could have done it themselves from home in three minutes.


Aside from some of their stores losing data transfer capabilities, it just makes sense that customer should know how to back up their own contacts.  Who hasn’t lost all 300 contacts on their phone after losing their device or dropping it that one last time?  If you’re on a PDA or smartphone device, and you’re not backing up your contacts, you’re asking for trouble.  Double that if your phone is central to your business.  PDA smartphones always come with options to sync your data to your computer or server, and often you can find free wireless services that do the same.  But regular phones are often the biggest problem for Verizon customers.  CDMA companies like Verizon (as well as Sprint and Alltel) don’t use SIM cards to store contacts (even though most GSM subscribers I know don’t even know their contacts have been storing to their phone, and not their SIM, anyway).  So, to store your contacts, you need another solution.

Verizon offers a program called Backup Assistant, which is a variant of software made by a company called FusionOne.  Essentially, you run software on your phone which backs up your contacts every day.  When you need to replace the phone, either by upgrade or by total destruction, you simply redownload that software on the new phone and it will pull the contacts stored on Verizon’s web site into the new phone.  It’s actually easier than a cable sync, and since the phone does everything for you, there’s no need to make an appointment with your computer every day.  The program is $1.99/month for Verizon subscribers NOT using the Verizon Wireless customer website, or free for those who DO use the web site (known as My Verizon - the same place you would look up your bill).

The biggest loss with Backup Assistant is that they don’t write the software for smartphones.  If you upgrade from a standard phone into a smartphone, you’re faced with having to manually enter all of your 300 or so contacts (or reevaluate all of your friends).  There is, however, a better solution - IF you’re already using Backup Assistant on your old, standard phone.

If you log into your My Verizon account, you should see your phone and phone number on the screen.  Near there, you should see a link for “My Contacts” if you’re not the main person, or “Manage my Contacts” under “Quick Links” on the right side of the screen if you are the account owner.  When you click this link, you will be taken to the Backup Assistant screen connected to your phone number.  In the upper right corner you should see “Export to CSV,” which will let you save your contacts to a file when you select it.

Now, if you open your Outlook or Blackberry Desktop Manager program, you should be able to import this file into your contacts.  Outlook can be a bit of a pain if you didn’t install it completely when you got Microsoft Office.  Blackberry Desktop Manager is more forgiving, but still has many steps to go through before it works.

For Outlook, click on File and find Import and Export Wizard.  The wizard will ask for your import types - just select “Import from another program or file,” then click Next.  The .CSV file that Backup Assistant saved for you is technically an Excel file, so chose Excel as your file type, though you might have to select “Comma Separated Values” instead.  The Wizard, if installed, should guide you through the rest.

On Blackberry Desktop Manager, you’ll need to run the Synchronize menu.  Once there, you’ll click on the Synchronization link under “Configure.”  You’ll click on the Synchronization button in there.  Once inside the configuration system, chose ONLY Address Book and click Setup.  Choose the ASCII Importer and click Next.  Do a one-way sync from the computer TO the device, and click Next.  Next, click Browse to find the file saved by Backup Assistant.  Once you’ve selected it, you’ll return to the same screen, and then click Next, and on the following screen, select Finish.

Now, drop back into the Synchronize link on the left, be sure only “organizer data” is selected, and click the Synchronize button.  You’ll be asked to confirm the changes by clicking Accept.  Let the software run - your contacts are now on your Blackberry.

For Android phones, this process is quite simplified.  Save the Backup Assistant file as before, but log into your Gmail account online afterward.  Find and click on the Contacts link on the left side of the screen.  Once inside the contacts screen, you’ll see an Import link on the top, right side of the screen.  Clicking on Import will allow you to Browse for the saved file.  Once it’s selected, click on Import, and your contacts are added to your Google / Gmail contacts.  The next time your phone syncs with your Google account, your contacts will transfer over.

This should give you some extra ability when it comes to saving your contacts.  Even if you simply save the file - just in case - you’re doing well!  Remember, your contacts are YOUR CONTACTS, and as such, YOUR RESPONSIBILITY.  Don’t wait until you’ve lost everything to consider backing up your data - DO IT NOW!